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Identifying Conversations in Social Media

August 20, 2008

Today was another Ballantyne Business Lunch Meetup here in Charlotte, NC (#BtynBiz) and today’s topic was a discussion of an upcoming webcast: “Issues with Social Media Marketing: Control, Security, Integration, and Measurement.”

@lisahoffmann, @bigfleet, @ScottHepburn, @richtucker, @budesigns and I (@93octane) kicked around some of the questions that the webcast will be covering about issues that companies face in Social Media Marketing.

When it came to considering how do companies “control the conversation” we decided to start trying to identify what types of conversations that companies should be aware of that are occurring in the social media space. This is what we came up with.

1) The Evangelist Conversation
People who are selling for you by constantly communicating your brand message, promoting you and defending you–without compensation. Evangelists can grow, extend and transform your brand in ways that are both good and bad. The Apple consumer community is constantly engaging in evangelizing conversations about the company, its products and its leader.

2) The Disevangelist Conversation
People who consistently create a negative discussion about your company, persuade others to disevangelize with them, with really no interest in ever changing their own minds about you. Wal-Mart consistently has disevangelizing conversations going on about their business practices.

3) The Cries for Help
People who are seeking customer service and shouting out about it, not necessarily directly to you. These can have a positive, neutral or negative tone.

4) The Information-Seeking Conversations
Customers and non-customers are frequently posing questions to their networks about your products and your service levels–collecting information from their trusted sources to make a decision, or to blog about you.

5) Casual Discourse and Opinions
Your company can come up in non-service-related conversations, most often when people are expressing an opinion about the particular issue. These conversation do not have the demonstrativeness of the Evangelizing and Disevangelizing conversations and are usually not calls for help.

6) The Non-conversation
Another important conversation is the one that isn’t happening at all. Customers and non-customers are engaging in social media without mentioning your company at all. Some of the non-customers will fall into your target market, and some won’t. It’s safe to say that non-conversations among non-customers that are not in your target market can safely be ignored, but opportunities may exist among the others.

Identifying the types of conversations that are happening in social media networks is an important step for companies to take as they are defining their engagement policies. The next post will describe several communication methods that companies are currently using to engage in these conversations.

What other conversations are happening out there that businesses should be aware of, and would you rewrite any of the conversations we defined?


the amplifier blog

August 4, 2008

This blog is where Lyell E. Petersen is posting about web strategy, marketing and development issues, as well as emerging trends and service in the “web 2.0” economy as they pertain to the enterprise.